Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday 235: Eat Slugs!

"Eat Slugs!" ~ Ron Weasley,
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by JK Rowling
Celebrate Banned Books Week!


Wordless Wednesday

Teaser Tuesday 330: The Outsiders

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jenn of Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

Welcome to Banned Books Week! This week I have another frequently challenged book for you, The Outsiders by SE Hinton, which is the September group read for TNBBC at Goodreads. This is one I read a few times back in middle and high school, and my sister and I also watched the movie several times around that time as well.

When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman — he looks tough and I don’t — but I guess my own looks aren’t so bad.

(Opening paragraph)

Originally published in 1967

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Banned Books Week 2016

Celebrate the freedom to read whatever you want!

"If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty."

― John F. Kennedy
[Response to questionnaire in Saturday Review, October 29 1960]

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Skywatch Friday 164

Watching the next round of storms come through about 4 PM Wednesday, September 21. . . 

 The first round started about 4:30 AM, and we ended up with 2.53 inches of rain -- some areas north of us actually had twice that, with mudslides, heavy flooding, and washed-out roads and bridges. More rain is expected over the next week, except Saturday, our one day to try to dry out.

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Thursday Thirteen 431: Recently Read

Yes, it’s that time again — below are the most recent books I've delved into this year. This selection of books crosses multiple genres — mystery, romance, classics, young adult, and even a couple banned books. As always, click on any link or cover for more information. 


: I thought I had read the Irish Born trilogy by Nora Roberts years ago, when it was originally published, but apparently not. This series follows the lives of Irish sisters Maggie, a glass blower, and Brianna, owner of a B&B, and their previously unknown to them American half-sister, Shannon, an artist.

ROW 2: The Cozy Mysteries Featured Author Row . . . Juliet Blackwell was the CFA in July, and I managed to read two books by here, each from a different series. First up was Secondhand Spirits, first book in her Witchcraft series, about witches in San Francisco (no, not the Charmed ones). This book was okay, with two notable exceptions. First, there are no mountains in Wisconsin, as the author falsely stated within the first sixty pages. That sentence nearly had me throwing the book across the room. The second issue was her “just then-itus,” which I’m sure you all know by now annoys me to no end. I did enjoy Dead Bolt, the second book in her Haunted Home Renovation series. I immensely enjoyed Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower, the Aug FCA. This is the first in her Magical Bookshop series, and I look forward to book two out later this year. Absolutely love the crow, Faulkner!

ROW 3: I was hoping to like Criminal Confections equally as much, but no. You’d think one couldn’t go wrong with a book about chocolate, but you would be wrong. There were numerous aspects of this book that annoyed me. Musseled Out (third in series) and Supernatural Born Killers (ninth of series) were much more to my liking.

ROW 4: Third Girl was the August book for the Agatha Christie group at Goodreads. While I had seen a movie version a few years back, I had not read the book before. It was interesting to note some of the changes made for the movie script, and which occasionally led to some confusion while reading the book. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the August group classics read. While I was familiar with some of the main points of the story — I remember a movie version when we were kids, and later in middle school, saw a scene of it enacted — I had never actually read the book, which is frequently challenged for language, violence, and age-inappropriateness. Neither had I previously read the September classic, The Call of the Wild. Good, but again one that is frequently challenged due to violence and age-inappropriateness.

ROW 5: Four years ago, I stumbled onto a YA series by Ally Carter about an all-girls school for spies, The Gallagher Girls. I managed to find all but the last one, United We Spy (which came out around the time I found book one of six) over the next few years, but this one eluded me. Then this past summer I stopped in at the library’s monthly used book sale and not only did I finally find a copy, it was in like-new condition. That, added to two recent releases found for a steal, totally made my day. The book was worth waiting for, though I had a bit of an “oops” totally Ally Carter's fault.

I always read on the bus to and from work, but am always aware of where we are . . . what major streets or familiar landmarks we are passing along the route. Except for one night. I was so into the action scene that I missed my stop, had even somehow completely blocked out the audio announcement of key stops. I suddenly looked up and felt a moment of panic when I didn’t instantly recognize where we were — and breathed a sigh of relief when I then heard the audio announce a certain street. Thankfully, I only had to walk back about six blocks — which would have been more of a relief had it not been after dark and the street better lighted.

Your turn: What have you been reading lately? Have you ever been so engrossed in a book that you forgot where you were, or missed a bus/train stop?

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday 234: Deadly Nightshade

Deadly Nightshade, UW Arboretum--Grady Tract, Madison


Wordless Wednesday

Teaser Tuesday 329: The Call of the Wild

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jenn of Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

I have another banned book for you this week, The Call of the Wild by Jack London. This book is frequently challenged for its dark tone and bloody violence and, as it is often read by younger teens, for age-inappropriateness. It was also banned in Italy, Yugoslavia, and burned in bonfires in Nazi Germany in the late 1920s and early 30s because it was considered "too radical."

Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego. Because men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies were booming the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland.

(Opening paragraph)

Originally published: 1903

Buck, a sturdy crossbreed canine (half St. Bernard, half Shepard), is a dog born to luxury and raised in a sheltered Californian home. But then he is kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and frozen Yukon Territory. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey, proving his unbreakable spirit...

First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London's masterpiece. Based on London's experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Random Photo: Governor's Mansion

Governor's Mansion, Madison, WI, seen from the water.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Skywatch Friday 163

Last Sunday night found me on a two-hour evening cruise on Lake Mendota, Madison. We left about an hour before sunset, and though the water was a bit choppy at times, we could not have asked for a more perfect night. It was a little breezy but not cold, and we had a clear sky for star-gazing on our way back in.

North Shoreline view

Nearing the southern shore and city skyline

Tenney Park Locks

We were surprised not to see more boats at sunset,
 as it was a beautiful night to be out on the water.

There were plenty of boats anchored off shore near The Boat House
at the Edgewater Hotel and near Memorial Union Terrace.

Memorial Union Terrace

Last light

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Thursday Thirteen 430: Don't Rock the Boat

Capitol Skyline, about an hour before sunset

Sunday evening, we had a work excursion -- a two-hour sunset cruise on Lake Mendota. The weather couldn't have been more perfect: a high of only 75F during the day, with a light wind and clear skies. It was a little cool out on the lake, and the water a bit choppy at times, but everyone played it smart in bringing a light jacket or sweatshirt. We left port an hour before sunset, and made a clockwise circuit of the lake, passing such notable local landmarks as the Governor's Mansion, Tenney Park Locks, The Boat House, The Red Gym, Memorial Union Terrace and Picnic Point. And, of course, there were magnificent views of the Capitol. We had a great time, and it brought to mind other occasions boats have played a role in my life.

1. When we were little, my dad owned a fishing boat, and would sometimes take my younger sister and I out with him. Not that we wanted to fish with him, it was just cool to go in the boat.

2. Some friend's of my parents owned a "cottage" on a private lake about an hour north of here. One summer when we were in high school, they invited my sisters and I, and some of our friends, up to camp on their land for a holiday weekend. This included use of the canoe, row boat and paddle boat.

3. The summer between my junior and senior years in HS, I was an exchange student to Norway. One night my host mother's brother borrowed a friend's fishing boat and took a couple of us out along the coast for a few hours. It was spectacular!

4. Almost a year later, friends and I were in Paris, France for spring break. The week's events included an evening Bateaux-Mouches cruise along the Seine, sailing past la Tour Eiffel, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and other popular Paris destinations.

Sunset on Lake Mendota, Madison

5. One summer while I was in Canada, I was invited to spend a week in Canada with a friend's family. We stayed at a campground owned by her family, and spent a day whitewater canoeing. I'd been in a canoe many times before, but never over rapids before. It was a lot of fun, probably due to the fact they were gentle, easy rapids that weren't as strenuous or harrowing as some rapids can be. Alas, I never got the chance to try it again, and now a neck-injury would prevent me from participating.

6. My senior year in college, my sorority decided to do something a bit different for our spring formal. We had dinner at a nice restaurant, then held the dance portion on a Lake Michigan cruise ship. As it was early April, there were some pretty big swells out on the lake that made dancing a bit interesting at times, but it was one of the funnest dances ever!

7. A year or two after college, a friend and I spent a week in New Orleans, which included a two-hour Mississippi Riverboat cruise. Sure, it's touristy, but you learn some of the history of the city and it was a lot of fun. There are some great views from the boat!

8. A few years after college, a friend from out east visited for a week, and we made a day trip up to Wisconsin Dells for the Upper and Lower boat tours. We got to talking with another group visiting from out of state, who regaled us all with their rendition of Don't Rock the Boat, Baby -- or at least the chorus, over and over and over again. Ah, the memories...

9. A summer trip with friends a couple years later included multiple boats, beginning with the ferry to the Copper Harbor Lighthouse. The water was a bit choppy the day we went out, but it was well-worth it.

Terrace at Memorial Union

10. Another day and farther east, we visited Tahquamenon Falls State Park. We visited both the Upper and Lower Falls, and borrowed a rowboat at the Lower Falls to access a small and picturesque island. Yeah . . . guess who ended up doing the rowing? Unpronounceable, but definitely worth visiting if you're ever in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

11. Yet another day took us to Sault Ste Marie, where we enjoyed a cruise on the St Mary River with the Soo Lock Boat Tours. Again, really touristy, but a great way to hear a bit about the city and lock's history. We also visited the SS Valley Camp, a freighter that has been turned into a museum, and includes a memorial to the Edmund Fitzgerald.

12. The following year, friends and I traveled east to stay with a friend for a week. While there, another friend and her husband invited us out for a sunset cruise on the Chesapeake Bay in their boat. One of the highlights was passing by the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, which is only accessible by boat, and a stop in Annapolis.

13. Another year, when my sister and brother-in-law were living in Natchitoches, LA, they invited me and a couple friends down to stay with them for a week in December to experience the town's annual Christmas festival. En route, we made stops in St. Louis, MO and Memphis, TN -- the latter of which included a morning Mississippi River cruise. It was actually fairly pleasant considering it was early December and there was snow on the ground back home.

Your turn: Do you like boats? Been on any cruises or interesting excursions?

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

Picnic Point, Madison, at sunset